St Bertelin's church, Stafford, became an independent parish church in 2013, and was commended in the local Green Awards for its energy efficiency measures - quite a year!
St Bertelin's church on Holmcroft Road in Stafford is named after the 8th century king of Mercia, also known as Bertram or Barthelm. Following the death of his wife and young child, Bertelin renounced his royal lineage and became a hermit, living for a time near Stafford and gaining a reputation as a wise and holy man. The main church was built in the 1950s, but only consecrated in 2013. It is now at the heart of an independent parish serving communities in the north end of Stafford.
More comfort, greater economy
Apart from the congregations at Sunday services, the church and associated halls host a wide range of activities throughout the week, in addition to 'one-off' lettings. As part of the Warmer Holmcroft project, in 2013 the church was allocated funding by Stafford Borough Council to upgrade certain aspects of its energy efficiency, to make the building more comfortable and more economical to run, and to help cut its carbon footprint.
"The church is making annual savings of around £2000 as a result of the energy efficiency measures and switching
to a cheaper energy tariff," according to the vicar of St Bertelin's, the Rev. Elaine Evans.
Because of the building's age, the wall cavities were uninsulated and a major source of heat loss. This was remedied by installing cavity wall insulation throughout the church and halls, as well as in the bell tower, making the entire building more comfortable.
The church is now more comfortable for the congregation and
other users following installation of cavity wall insulation.
Heating and lighting
The building is heated with hot-water radiators, but as with many community buildings that are used regularly but intermittently, St Bertelin's realized that it could benefit from more accurate control of its heating system. Hence two new thermostats were installed, one on the church heating circuit and one on the circuit serving the halls. Also, thermostatically controlled radiator valves (TRVs) were fitted to all the radiators. Consequently, the heating can be controlled more effectively and precisely than before.
Lighting is another area where savings can be made relatively easily and cheaply. The existing exterior lights at St Bertelin's were timer-controlled to come on at dusk and go off at dawn, meaning they shone all night, mostly to no good purpose. So these were replaced with low-energy lights controlled by infra-red sensors that switch them on only when a person approaches the building; they then go off automatically after a predetermined time, hence saving on electricity costs. A small light continues to shine permanently in the Lady Chapel adjacent to the altar, signifying it as a place of sanctuary and prayer.
'Commended' in Green Awards
As a result of these works, and also by switching energy supplier, St Bertelin's has achieved significant savings, estimated at £2000 a year. In recognition of this, it was 'Commended' in the 2013 Green Awards run by Stafford Borough Council.